Thursday, 30 May 2013

Moon of Asteroid 1998 QE2 Found by NASA Radar

First radar images of asteroid 1998 QE2 were obtained when the asteroid was about 3.75 million miles First radar images of asteroid 1998 QE2 were obtained when the asteroid was about 3.75 million miles (6 million kilometers) from Earth. The small white dot at lower right is the moon, or satellite, orbiting asteroid 1998 QE2. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR
› Larger image



May 30, 2013

PASADENA, Calif. -- A sequence of radar images of asteroid 1998 QE2 was obtained on the evening of May 29, 2013, by NASA scientists using the 230-foot (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., when the asteroid was about 3.75 million miles (6 million kilometers) from Earth, which is 15.6 lunar distances.

The radar imagery revealed that 1998 QE2 is a binary asteroid. In the near-Earth population, about 16 percent of asteroids that are about 655 feet (200 meters) or larger are binary or triple systems. Radar images suggest that the main body, or primary, is approximately 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) in diameter and has a rotation period of less than four hours. Also revealed in the radar imagery of 1998 QE2 are several dark surface features that suggest large concavities. The preliminary estimate for the size of the asteroid's satellite, or moon, is approximately 2,000 feet (600 meters) wide. The radar collage covers a little bit more than two hours.

The radar observations were led by scientist Marina Brozovic of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The closest approach of the asteroid occurs on May 31 at 1:59 p.m. Pacific (4:59 p.m. Eastern / 20:59 UTC), when the asteroid will get no closer than about 3.6 million miles (5.8 million kilometers), or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon. This is the closest approach the asteroid will make to Earth for at least the next two centuries. Asteroid 1998 QE2 was discovered on Aug. 19, 1998, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program near Socorro, N.M.

The resolution of these initial images of 1998 QE2 is approximately 250 feet (75 meters) per pixel. Resolution is expected to increase in the coming days as more data become available. Between May 30 and June 9, radar astronomers using NASA's 230-foot-wide (70 meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, will perform an extensive campaign of observations on asteroid 1998 QE2. The two telescopes have complementary imaging capabilities that will enable astronomers to learn as much as possible about the asteroid during its brief visit near Earth.

Radar is a powerful technique for studying an asteroid's size, shape, rotation state, surface features and surface roughness, and for improving the calculation of asteroid orbits. Radar measurements of asteroid distances and velocities often enable computation of asteroid orbits much further into the future than if radar observations weren't available.

NASA places a high priority on tracking asteroids and protecting our home planet from them. In fact, the United States has the most robust and productive survey and detection program for discovering near-Earth objects. To date, U.S. assets have discovered more than 98 percent of the known Near-Earth Objects.

More - Link >>> http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-182&cid=release_2013-182

NASA Science News: "Approaching Asteroid Has Its Own Moon" -
Link >>> http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/30may_asteroidmoon/

NASA Science News: "Big Asteroid Flyby" -
Link >>> http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/30may_asteroidflyby/

Source: NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Related Blog Posts ---

NASA Coverage: 1998 QE2 Asteroid Passes Earth Friday  (2013 May 30):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/05/nasa-coverage-1998-qe2-asteroid-passes.html

 

Congress Debates NASA Asteroid Mission--or Back to the Moon? (2013 May 23):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/05/congress-debates-nasa-asteroid-mission.html

 

NASA Wants $100 Million To Catch An Asteroid  (2013 March 30):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/03/nasa-wants-100-million-to-catch-asteroid.html


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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

NASA Coverage: 1998 QE2 Asteroid Passes Earth Friday

NASA Hosts News and Social Media Events Around this Week's Asteroid Pass

The orbit of asteroid 1998 QE2. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech The orbit of asteroid 1998 QE2. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
› Larger image

  •  
May 29, 2013

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA is inviting members of the media and public to participate in online and televised events May 30 to 31 with NASA officials and experts discussing the agency's asteroid initiative and the Earth flyby of the 1.7-mile-long (2.7-kilometer-long) asteroid 1998 QE2.

At 1:59 p.m. PDT (4:59 p.m. EDT), Friday, May 31, the 1998 QE2 asteroid will pass by Earth at a safe distance of about 3.6 million miles (5.8 million kilometers) -- its closest approach for at least the next two centuries. The asteroid was discovered Aug. 19, 1998, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research Program near Socorro, N.M.

The schedule of events is:

Thursday, May 30

-- 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. PDT (1:30 to 2:30 p.m. EDT): NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., will show on NASA Television live telescope images of the asteroid and host a discussion with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and experts from JPL and the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex. Scientists at Goldstone will be using radar to track and image the asteroid.

The event also will be streamed live on the agency's website at: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv . It will also be available on Ustream.tv with live chat capability at: http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2 .

Viewers may submit questions in advance to @AsteroidWatch on Twitter with the hashtag #asteroidQE2.

-- 5 to 7 p.m. PDT (8 to 10 p.m. EDT): Bill Cooke of the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will host an online chat at: http://www.nasa.gov/chat .

Friday, May 31

-- 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. PDT (2 to 3 p.m. EDT), NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver will participate in a White House "We the Geeks" Google+ Hangout. Participants will discuss asteroid identification, characterization, resource utilization and hazard mitigation. The hangout can be viewed at the White House website at: https://plus.google.com/+whitehouse/posts .

NASA recently announced plans to find, study, capture and relocate an asteroid for exploration by astronauts. The asteroid initiative is a strategy to leverage human and robotic activities for the first human mission while accelerating efforts to improve detection and characterization of asteroids.

For more about NASA's asteroid activities, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/asteroid .

More information about asteroids and near-Earth objects is available at: http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/,
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch and via Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/asteroidwatch .

More information about asteroid radar research is at: http://echo.jpl.nasa.gov/ .

D.C. Agle 818-393-9011
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
  agle@jpl.nasa.gov

Sarah Ramsey 202-358-1694
NASA Headquarters, Washington
  sarah.ramsey@nasa.gov

2013-177

Source: NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Related Blog Posts ---

Congress Debates NASA Asteroid Mission--or Back to the Moon? (2013 May 23):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/05/congress-debates-nasa-asteroid-mission.html

 

NASA Wants $100 Million To Catch An Asteroid  (2013 March 30):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/03/nasa-wants-100-million-to-catch-asteroid.html


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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Space Security Aim of UN Meeting

SpaceShipTwo powered flight
As the number of public and private actors in space increase, as demonstrated in part by Virgin Galactic’s recent powered flight of SpaceShipTwo, the need for effective space security measures grows. (credit: Virgin Galactic/MarsScientific.com)

Effective mechanisms for space security

The UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) is an important platform for discussions on issues concerning space security. The present GGE on outer space was established in 2011 and to date has held two meetings. The third and last meeting is expected during July 2013. The previous GGE on the same subject matter was held two decades back during the period 1991–1993.


The present mandate for the GGE is to develop Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures (TCBMs) for outer space. The idea is to develop various methods for improving cooperation and reducing the risks of misunderstanding and miscommunication in space activities. TCBMs are expected to extend concrete, feasible, and practical recommendations in this regard.

Over the years, various efforts have been made to have a mutually agreeable regime in the space arena. None have met with much success. On this issue there has been a deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) for more than 15 years simply because the states are not able to agree on the annual program of work. Also, the UN efforts, like the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPOUS), and the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS) have remained as non-starters. Presently, two major and complimentary efforts are underway: the international space code of conduct is being deliberated and the GGE is heading towards finalization.

More - Link >>> http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2301/1

Source: The Space Review.

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Monday, 27 May 2013

Strange Quantum Magnetism: Physicists Get 1st Look

Date: 24 May 2013 Time: 09:41 AM ET
an illustration of an optical lattic with atoms lined up in a non-random way.

Illustration of ultracold fermionic atoms in an optical lattice potential. The atoms tended to tunnel into wells with others that had opposite spins. After a while, a line of atoms spontaneously organized itself, with the spins in a non-random pattern, revealing a signature of quantum magnetism.
CREDIT: Image courtesy of Thomas Uehlinger, ETH Zurich
Using super-chilled atoms, physicists have for the first time observed a weird phenomenon called quantum magnetism, which describes the behavior of single
atoms as they act like tiny bar magnets.

Quantum magnetism is a bit different from classical magnetism, the kind you see when you stick a magnet to a fridge, because individual atoms have a quality called spin, which is quantized, or in discrete states (usually called up or down). Seeing the behavior of individual atoms has been hard to do, though, because it required cooling atoms to extremely cold temperatures and finding a way to "trap" them.

The new finding, detailed in the May 24 issue of the journal Science, also opens the door to better understanding physical phenomena, such as superconductivity, which seems to be connected to the collective quantum properties of some materials.

More - Link >>> http://www.livescience.com/34665-physicists-observe-quantum-magnetism.html

Source: LiveScience.com .










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Sunday, 26 May 2013

Citizen Scientists Accurately Measure Brightness of Night Sky

File:Terre-lumieres de nuit.jpgArtificial lights strongly overlap with the concentrations of Earth's population, showing the locations of light pollution. (Image Source: Wikipedia.org )

 

May 21, 2013 — A team of researchers from Germany, Italy, and the USA have shown that observations of stellar visibility by citizen scientists accurately measure the brightness of the night sky. The researchers published their results May 16 in Nature Publishing Group's open access journal, Scientific Reports. The researchers hope that such data can eventually be used to track changes in artificial night sky brightness, also known as skyglow, worldwide.

The data the researchers analyzed came from the GLOBE at Night citizen science project, which is coordinated by the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory.


Sources: Freie Universitaet Berlin, ScienceDaily.com .

More Citizen Science Projects: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/FAQ/citizenscience.html

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Saturday, 25 May 2013

Feed Astronauts w/ 3-D-Printed Food ?

NASA asks: Could 3-D-printed food fuel a mission to Mars?


NASA can send robots to Mars, no problem. But if it’s ever going to put humans on the Red Planet, it has to figure out how to feed them over the course of a years-long mission.

So the space agency has funded research for what could be the ultimate nerd solution: a 3-D printer that creates entrees or desserts at the touch of a button.

Yes, it’s another case of life imitating “Star Trek” (remember the food replicator?). In this case, though, the creators hope there is an application beyond deep-space pizza parties. The technology could also be used to feed hungry populations here on Earth.

Texas-based Systems and Materials Research Corp. has been selected for a $125,000 grant from NASA to develop a 3-D printer that will create “nutritious and flavorful” food suitable for astronauts, according to the company’s proposal.

More - Link >>> http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/nasa-asks-could-3-d-printed-food-fuel-a-mission-to-mars/2013/05/21/76fc3668-c224-11e2-914f-a7aba60512a7_story.html

Source: The Washington Post.

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Friday, 24 May 2013

Weather Satellite Fails as Hurricane Season About to Begin

File:Delta IV Medium+ (4,2) launch with GOES-N.jpg

Launch of GOES-13 weather satellite from Cape Canaveral
on 2006 May 24. (image Source: Wikipedia.org )


Fri May 24, 2013 3:35pm EDT
 
* Spare satellite activated, but not moved
* Troubleshooting efforts under way for GOES-13
* Satellite helps track weather off U.S. Atlantic Coast


By Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., May 24 (Reuters) - A key satellite positioned to track severe weather in the eastern United States has failed, just as the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season is about to start.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has activated a spare satellite, which will provide coverage of the East Coast, while it tries to fix the failed one, the agency said in a status report on its website on Friday.

"There is no estimate on return to operations at this time," NOAA said.

The Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane season starts on June 1 and lasts six months. NOAA warned on Thursday that this year's season may be "extremely active," with 13 to 20 tropical storms and seven to 11 of those strengthening into hurricanes.

 
More - Link >>> http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/24/space-hurricane-idUSL2N0E51EN20130524

Source: Reuters News Wire Service.

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Thursday, 23 May 2013

Eclipse of Nothingness: Friday Night Lunar Eclipse

By Francis Graham
Professor Emeritus
Kent State University 
 

An eclipse of the Moon will happen in the midnight hour of May 24-25, 2013. 

 
It is such a slight eclipse that one wonders why the Almighty bothered to order it at all.

The Moon will just “nip” the penumbra, the zone where the Sun is partially obscured by the Earth. Nothing will be noticeable. Maybe a sensitive photometer can record the eclipse. Maybe.


The Path of the Moon for 12 hours in Scorpius. The inner circle is the umbra, the part of space at the Moon’s distance where the Sun in completely obscured by Earth. The outer circle is the penumbra, where the Sun is partly obscured by Earth.. Because the Moon will barely contact the penumbra, we can expect no darkening of the Moon, to the eye. It will look like an ordinary full moon.

What there is of this eclipse will start at 3:53 UT ( 7 minutes to midnight) max out at 4:09:58 UT (ten minutes after midnight) and end 26 minutes after midnight Eastern Daylight Time. The whole lower 48 states will see what there is of it.

Don’t expect much from this eclipse. In fact, don’t expect anything.

Source: Meridian Passage Blog by Francis G. Graham, Professor Emeritus of Physics, Kent State University.

NASA Web Page on May 24-25 Eclipse:
Link >>> http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/LEplot/LEplot2001/LE2013May25N.pdf

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Congress Debates NASA Asteroid Mission--or Back to the Moon?

Date: 22 May 2013 Time: 05:52 AM ET

Asteroid Capturing Spacecraft Concept
A notional concept of a solar-electric-powered spacecraft, designed to capture a small near-Earth asteroid and relocate it safely close to the Earth-moon system so astronauts can explore it.
CREDIT: NASA


NASA's plan to lasso an asteroid for astronauts as a deep-space dry run for a future mission to Mars has some members of Congress wondering if the space agency would be better off setting its sights on the moon instead.

The asteroid mission was announced when President Barack Obama unveiled his 2014 NASA budget request. The scheme would have NASA use a robotic spacecraft to capture a roughly 23-foot-wide (7 meters) asteroid in deep space, and redirect it to an orbit closer to the moon. Once there, NASA would launch a human mission to rendezvous with the space rock and explore it.

But members of the U.S. House of Representatives Science, Space and Technology Committee expressed their skepticism of the plan during a hearing Tuesday to discuss NASA's ultimate goal of sending astronauts to Mars. The asteroid mission was proposed as an initial step toward that goal — one that would test technologies needed for a Mars mission and allow crews to gain experience in deep space exploration.

Yet lawmakers questioned the mission's technical plan, budget and schedule. "I am not convinced this mission is the right way to go, and that it may actually become a detour for a Mars mission," said Rep. Steven Palazzo (R., Miss.).


Some members of Congress favored sending astronauts back to the moon instead.

More - Link >>> http://www.space.com/21253-congress-nasa-asteroid-mars-missions.html

Source: Space.com .

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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Quantum AI Computer Coming to NASA & Google

Why Are Google & NASA Getting a Quantum Computer?

Date: 16 May 2013 Time: 05:15 PM ET

quantum-computer
A quantum computer chip can process information several orders of magnitude faster than an ordinary silicon computer chip.
CREDIT: Erick Lucero



Think your computer is pretty fast? Think again.

Compared with the newest quantum computer from D-Wave Systems of Burnaby, British Columbia, even the world's most powerful supercomputers are ploddingly slow, The New York Times reports.

The ability of quantum computing to solve problems thousands of times faster than traditional computers is attracting attention from some of the world's largest and most powerful institutions.

Search engine giant Google announced today (May 16) it was teaming with NASA Ames Research Center and the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) to create the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, to be housed later this year at the NASA Ames facility in Moffett Field, Calif., northwest of San Jose.

More - Link >>> http://www.livescience.com/32080-google-nasa-quantum-computer-d-wave.html

Source: LiveScience.com .

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Saturn Moon Titan: 1st Global Topographic Map

Cassini Shapes First Global Topographic Map of Titan

Global Topographic Map of Titan These polar maps show the first global, topographic mapping of Saturn's moon Titan, using data from NASA's Cassini mission. To create these maps, scientists employed a mathematical process called splining, which uses smooth curved surfaces to "join" the areas between grids of existing topography profiles obtained by Cassini's radar instrument.Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/JHUAPL/Cornell/Weizmann
› Full image and caption


May 15, 2013

Scientists have created the first global topographic map of Saturn's moon Titan, giving researchers a valuable tool for learning more about one of the most Earth-like and interesting worlds in the solar system. The map was just published as part of a paper in the journal Icarus.

Titan is Saturn's largest moon - at 1,600 miles (2,574 kilometers) across it's bigger than planet Mercury - and is the second-largest moon in the solar system. Scientists care about Titan because it's the only moon in the solar system known to have clouds, surface liquids and a mysterious, thick atmosphere. The cold atmosphere is mostly nitrogen, like Earth's, but the organic compound methane on Titan acts the way water vapor does on Earth, forming clouds and falling as rain and carving the surface with rivers. Organic chemicals, derived from methane, are present in Titan's atmosphere, lakes and rivers and may offer clues about the origins of life.

More - Link >>> http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-161&cid=release_2013-161

Source: NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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Sunday, 19 May 2013

Video: Bright Explosion - Meteor Hits the Moon

May 17, 2013:  For the past 8 years, NASA astronomers have been monitoring the Moon for signs of explosions caused by meteoroids hitting the lunar surface. "Lunar meteor showers" have turned out to be more common than anyone expected, with hundreds of detectable impacts occurring every year.
They've just seen the biggest explosion in the history of the program.

"On March 17, 2013, an object about the size of a small boulder hit the lunar surface in Mare Imbrium," says Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. "It exploded in a flash nearly 10 times as bright as anything we've ever seen before."

Lunar Impact (splash)
A new ScienceCast video describes the bright lunar explosion of March 17, 2013. Play it

Anyone looking at the Moon at the moment of impact could have seen the explosion--no telescope required.  For about one second, the impact site was glowing like a 4th magnitude star.

More & Video - http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/16may_lunarimpact/

Source: NASA Science News.

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North Pole Shifting Due to Greenland Ice Melting

Climate Change Has Shifted the Locations of Earth's North and South Poles

Increased melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet and other ice losses worldwide have helped to move the North Pole several centimeters east each year since 2005


 greenland, melting polar ice, north pole ice

Scientists suspect that melting ice has tilted the North Pole toward Greenland. Image: Patrick Robert/Corbis

Global warming is changing the location of Earth’s geographic poles, according to a new study in Geophysical Research Letters.

Researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, report that increased melting of the Greenland ice sheet — and to a lesser degree, ice loss in other parts of the globe — helped to shift the North Pole several centimeters east each year since 2005.

“There was a big change,” says lead author Jianli Chen, a geophysicist.

More - Link >>> http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=climate-change-has-shifted-location-north-south-poles&WT.mc_id=SA_DD_20130515

Sources: Journal Nature, Scientific American Magazine.

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